WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — Exxon Mobil has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government to stop a $2 million fine on the oil giant for violating U.S. sanctions on Russia while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil company’s CEO.
The U.S. says Exxon violated the sanctions in May 2014 when two subsidiaries signed deals with Igor Sechin. Sechin is the chairman of Russian oil giant Rosneft and is on a U.S. blacklist over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The Treasury Department says Exxon showed “reckless disregard” for sanctions by dealing with a person on that blacklist and that top Exxon executives knew Sechin was blacklisted when they did business with him. The U.S. says Exxon caused “significant harm” to the sanctions program.
Exxon argued that the sanctions barred Americans from dealing with the oil mogul himself and not the Russian government-owned oil company he ran.
The Texas-based company says it was following “authoritative and specific guidance” from the Obama administration and that now the Treasury Department is trying to change the rules “retroactively” a year later.
Exxon is suing the Treasury Department and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
When Tillerson was CEO, he said Exxon didn’t support sanctions generally because it found them usually ineffective.
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